By Nolan McBride
Wow! It’s been over a month since my last article here. Between papers and exams I haven’t had much time to myself. Sorry for taking so long. I have several more Dunker Punks I want to tell you about, but given next Saturday’s celebration, I decided I should talk a little about its origins. If you grew up in a hometown similar to mine, you probably had at least one or two friends growing up whose parents wouldn’t let them go trick-or-treating because Halloween is ”pagan,” or “demonic,” or whatever. Ironically, while the modern day Halloween is basically a purely secular holiday, it actually stems from a Christian celebration.
Halloween’s name is corrupted from All Hallows’ Eve, the night before All Hallows’ Day, or as it is more commonly known today, All Saints’ Day. In a similar fashion to Christmas Eve, All Hallows’ Eve developed a series of traditions associated with it in preparation for the holiday the day after. Vigil services were, and in many traditions still are held for All Saints’ Day. Trick-or-Treating derives from Souling, a practice where children dressed in black poor would go door to door asking for Soul Cakes, a round sweet cake in exchange for prayers for the givers and their families.
All Saints’ Day itself is meant to be a celebration of all the Saints in heaven. While there are many officially canonized Saints, all those in Heaven are considered Saints, canonized or not. Official canonization typically only happens to those who lived their faith in a particularly renowned way: martyrs, missionaries, clergy, monastics, exc.; however, Heaven is not limited to those people. A life of simple and quite witness is no less holy and no less a path to heaven than martyr’s death. As such, there are many Saints whose lives and deeds are known only to God. All Saints’ Day was started as a way to celebrate the lives and examples of all the Saints, known and unknown.
In my home congregation we developed our own way of celebrating All Saints’ Day on the first Sunday of November. Every year, during that day’s service we name and remember all those saints in our own congregation who have died over the past year, as well as remembering those who helped us along in our Christian journey who have now passed on to their final reward. At the same time, we recognize and celebrate new members of our congregation in the past year, both those who have been baptized and those who have transferred their membership. So, this weekend in-between dressing up in crazy costumes and having a good scare, take a moment to remember the saints in your life who helped you to get where you are now, and perhaps say a short prayer or two thanking God for them.
Anglican Collect for All Saints
who hast knit together thine elect
in one communion and fellowship
in the mystical body of Your Son, Christ our Lord:
Give us grace so to follow Your blessed saints
in all virtuous and godly living,
that we may come
to those ineffable joys
that thou hast prepared for those
who unfeignedly love thee;
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord,
who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth,
one God, in glory everlasting. Amen
– Book of Common Prayer, 1979
Nolan McBride is a History and Religion major at Manchester University. He loves music, theater, and learning about Christian traditions around the world. He enjoys swimming and singing and is still sore about his family’s namesake, St. Brigid of Kildare, losing to St. Francis of Assisi in the last Lent Madness competition. You can follow him on twitter at @nmcbride35, and find him on Facebook.
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